Friday, June 26, 2015
SATURDAY'S OTHER STORYLINE
A two-time Grey Cup champion - and the title game's MVP in 2010 - Richardson registered five straight 1,000-yard seasons, all accomplishments registered with the Montreal Alouettes from 2008-'13.
But now the 33-year-old not only finds himself back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders - the team Richardson began his CFL career with in '03 - but on the comeback trail. When Richardson steps on to the field Saturday for the Riders' season opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it will be his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee midway through the 2013 campaign.
"Football is a funny business sometimes,'' said Riders offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine. "You always have something to prove.
"You have to prove it to yourself, you have to prove it to teammates, to the opponents. The day that you stop living with that mindset you start getting complacent, and that's not a good position to be in in this business.''
Montreal released Richardson during training camp in 2014 and he didn't play the entire season. Richardson signed with Saskatchewan as a free agent last December and said he wasn't ready to call it quits just yet.
"There was no doubt in my mind I'd be back on the field,'' he said. "There's too much inside of me.
"When I'm done with football it's going to be on my terms.''
But Richardson admitted his comeback wasn't easy.
"It was definitely a long process to get back to where I am now and I had to be patient with it that process,'' he said. "Now I'm healthy.
"My biggest test was finishing training camp and trying not to miss any days but still taking it steady. Everything worked out for me that way so I'm ready to go, ready to take the next step. My legs have come back to life and I'm feeling great.''
That's great news for Saskatchewan, which will be without speedy slotback Weston Dressler on Saturday. Dressler's unspecified injury isn't considered serious and while sophomore American Ryan Smith will take Dressler's spot Richardson is expected to carry a solid workload.
Chapdelaine, in his first season with the Riders, raves of the versatility of his receiving corps. The six-foot-five Richardson certainly has a role within the gameplan.
"I can see some of the things he can do well and I can see some of things that maybe other guys can do a little bit better than him,'' Chapdelaine said. "That's the beauty of this team, we have a number of guys who can do so many different things.
"There is only one ball to go around, but there is enough diversity within our system to be able to not just rely on one guy. We have many guys here who can give us solutions on how to beat a defence.''
Richardson is no stranger to making life difficult for opposing defences. In 2011, he recorded a league-record 12 100-yard games and finished with 112 catches for 1,777 yards (both league highs) and 11 TDs. Three years earlier, Richardson had a CFL-leading 16 touchdown grabs.
"We're going to be explosive and we're going to put up a lot of points this year,'' Richardson said. "There's a lot of playmakers on this team and when you have more than just two or three guys that can make plays, it makes it that much harder on the defence.
"They don't know who to key on. It could be anyone who makes that catch, score that touchdown.''
NOTES - Roughriders safety Tyron Brackenridge, a two-time CFL all-star, won't play Saturday. He missed most of training camp and the team's two exhibition games with an undisclosed injury.